Friday, 14 December 2012

Poppyfields January Challenge

Poppyfields January Challenge

Every penny to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and their research and treatment of child brain tumours!

The idea is to simply exercise everyday throughout January. Yes including New Years Day! You can swim, ride, run, go to the gym, turbo, dance, netball, walk, zumba, sail, aerobics or whatever exercise floats your boat and shifts your ass!

£5 sign up to take part by texting RUNS99 £5 to 70070 (through textgiving 100% goes to the charity!).Then just exercise everyday BUT if you miss a day you pay a £1 charity fine by texting RUNS99 £1 to 70070 up to a maximum fine of £10, Gift aid your texts too. It’s very simple.

If there is any problem with the text go to and pay online.

Log your miles or exercise sessions with updates, pics and videos in the FB Group ‘Outlaw Ironmorph for Poppyfields’ and support fellow January challengers. It will be voluntary and self policing and it’s just a bit of fun to kick start 2013 and help kids fight brain tumours.

Don’t think that Couch Potatoes can’t get involved. Of course they can. It would be nice to see them moving but if Couch Potatoism is your thing just register with a £5 text and then pay the £10 maximum fine! Then couch back and watch everyone else get fit. You’ve still helped kids fight brain tumours if not yourself!

Send the text and prepare to blitz 2013!

Friday, 30 November 2012

1 Year on!

Its a year to the day since I started this blog mularky. It has involved lots of foul language, dollops of training panic, injury fear, bike breakdowns, lurgy, swimming doubts and running niggles but to balance all that out it has included all the good stuff too from getting fit, great mates, Mrs Brightside, Morphing VLM to becoming an Outlaw to the ultimate good news of Poppy's brain tumour being removed!! Afterall Poppy's plight was the driving force behind getting off my arse in the first place.

I am now at the point where I am preparing to tackle Outlaw again but this time in a Morphsuit. I was going to do the ride and run in it but not the swim as it won't allow me to breathe through it when wet. One thing however about any challenge is not cutting corners. Taking it on as it was intended. You dont for example take the bus between mile 17 and 19 of VLM because its hard. You dont get off the bike and taxi the last 10 miles of the Outlaw ride because its too hard. If you're gonna accept a challenge it should be done properly. So winter testing will not only include getting over the issues of impaired vision on the bike but will now involve finding a way to breathe through the Morphsuit in the water. Current thinking is Suit 1 for the swim using contact lenses and goggles under the suit and wetsuit on top. At T1 change into Suit 2 (identical) so I can be dry for the start of the ride, keep lenses and add tri shorts and socks under suit. This should then see me through to the finish with only a change of footwear necessary at T2.
If you are in Tamworth for a swim or in the surrounding areas on your travels please do not be alarmed if you see a Morph pedalling past or taking a dip. Its not some weirdo up to no good. If said Morph appears to be drowning however please alert a lifeguard!

I envisage that completion of Outlaw 2013 will bring to an end my current Justgiving attempt for Birmingham Childrens Hospital and will hopefully see me hit £10,000 following 2 yrs & 2 mths from Edinburgh Marathon 2011 through Liverpool Marathon 2011, VLM 2012, Outlaw 2012 to Outlaw Ironmorph 2013.
Thats not to say I will be hanging up my trainers to revert to the couch potato I once was. I am very much looking forward to doing the Birmingham Half Marathon next October with Mrs Brightside. She has very much got back into running and I love the runs we get to do together. I secretly hope the Birmingham Half (which I reckon we can both do sub 2 hours) will spur her on to want to do a marathon with me perhaps in 2014!

Other than Birmingham nothing is set in stone post Outlaw although I do have an eye on the JW 30 mile Ultra in Sept and the 35 mile Ripon Ultra in October. There are a few people I want to run with and these events can act as a springboard to The West Highland Way race in the summer of 2014. Its 92 miles off road 35 hour limit race along the West Highland Way. I've no idea why I like the look of it, I've no idea how I would prepare for it, and if it wasnt for the fact that I know I can I would really think that I can't do it. That seems reason enough to give it a go.
I cant guarantee this blog will improve over the next 12 months or indeed that anyone will start reading it but it remains a loyal outlet for my ramblings, failings, achievements and ludicrous follies. Stick with me if you dare, sponsor me if you care and dont be put off by my lack of hair!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Birmingham Half Morph!

Last week with just a few days to go I was offered a place in the Great Birmingham Run. I owe this race one but hadnt entered primarily due to financial restrainsts. As the place was free all I had to consider was whether I was prepared enough to do it and whether to Morph it or not.
I had not run further than 8 miles (once) since Outlaw but I had been regularly running shorter distances. I reminded myself that I am an Ironman and so I should stop fannying about and just do it. I put the question to Twitter whether to Morph or whether to go for a PB ie sub 2 hrs. The resounding response was the sensible 'go for a PB' or 'run one for yourself' so after careful consideration I of course opted to Morph it. The temptation is just too much and because the race had beaten me hands down when I first Morphed it in 2010 I felt it deserved to be Morphed again! It could also act as a good training experience in the build up to Morphing Outlaw next year! It was also on Channel 5 and I hoped to get Birmingham Childrens Hospital on the box!
And so on Sunday morning at 7am I found myself stood infront of the mirror cursing like a very angry person prone to excessive cursing when stressed, getting stressed about trying to put contact lenses in! I dont wear them usually I stick to glasses but I had a couple left over from Morphing VLM. By 8.30am I had finally put the bastard things in and it was not lost on me that many of the runners would complete the course faster than it takes me to put lenses in!
I travelled over with Kate, John and Gareth. I have run with all three lots of times but not for a while. They were all down to sub 1:45 half mara times so I knew I couldnt run with them. They were all starting from Green or Pink (the later starts) and I was starting in White (an earlier wave) so I thought that would even things out and we would probably all finish not too far apart. Parking, baggage, toilet break and start assembly all went very smoothly. So so so different from the organisational debacle that was 2010.
I walked down to White and got talking to a fellow Morph. Orange Morph Pete was running for MS. He had not run in the Morphsuit before so I gave him a few tips ie try to breathe, get used to not being able to see, be aware you dont take on as much water through the suit and cross your fingers the sun doesnt come out and we avoid rain (cant see and cant breathe). Finally, milk the crowd like a madman 'cause they love a Morph.He had done VLM (non Morph) in 4:30 so he can run. I offered him to run on when I slowed but he was keen to run with me.
Start was smooth and off we went.
Milking the crowd obviously comes as naturally to Pete as it does to me. We never once stopped hearing 'go Morphs' 'nice one cheese string' 'come on orange and white man' 'I can tell your religion in that' and my favourite of couse 'should have gone to Specsavers!'.
I had planned on steady first half due to no lengthy training runs then see what I have for the hill at the end but in reality I got totally caught up in the atmosphere and weaved from side to side hi fiving everyone. We ran the 1st mile in less than 8 mins it turns out, something I felt on the course and deliberately tried to slow. Looking back I was too conservative, perhaps lacking a bit of belief, but also really enjoying it and running for fun. Hi fiving the kids or waving at them or scaring them back to their parents is great fun. The crowd were great and we had a lot of fun all the way round
I had the usual odd wobble here and there but nothing serious. It was great to get shouts from @dannytheblade ahead of me on the opposite side of the road on his way to a 1:50, @TJ1974 a Poppyfields supporter behind me on the opposite side of the road (a timely boost) and from Gaz as he motored past me around the 6 mile marker on his way to a 1:45!! Its also great to talk to and encourage other runners, hear their stories and share the whole experience.
Most of my thoughts come back to Outlaw next year and my determination to do it in a Morphsuit. Around mile 10 when hitting the hill with the sun in my eyes so I cant see I did wonder will it be possible. I am looking at 112 miles 8 hours on a bike in the suit and 26.2 miles 6 hours on the run in the suit. Can I keep sane and cope with it for that long? You know what? I've no idea. I somewhat doubt it. Will I have a go though? Damn right I will! Whats the point in doing it if it is easy?
I plodded said hill - it is a killer finish to a half but very satisfying when you then whizz the last half mile down Broad Street milking the crowd on the left while Pete milks the crowd on the right. 2:07 was my finishing time. 10 mins inside my last Morphing of Birmingham time and a hugely more enjoyable experience.
Could I have done sub 2 hours? I think so but I would have had less fun! Sub 2 hours is for next year with Mrs Brightside anyway!
The day was saddened by the awful news later in the day that a runner had died near to the finish. My heart goes out to his family. Although I didnt know the runner we all experienced the day together and its very sad to hear that someone trying to achieve something be it a personal goal or charitable effort or both, should die in their effort.
I was lucky enough to come home to my family safe and well but for the odd ache and niggle. Some cheekiness off the kids (apparently Orange Morph looks cooler than me!) and a proud hug off Mrs Brightside along with a post run snack set me straight.

Plans are afoot for us to do Birmingham together next year (she even said if she were to do a marathon she would want to do Liverpool!).
Loads and loads of people achieved this weekend at Birmingham and Amsterdam and Abingdon and all over the place. Special mention to Anne Devanney popping her mara cherry at Abingdon and Martin Hookway and @MrAFletch doing a little 50 mile Saturday leg stretcher.
A great weekend overall with a big elbow of a reminder of our frailty. RIP Kevin Paterson. This is the BUPA Great Birmingham Run Statement: -
We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Kevin Paterson, who died after completing the event yesterday.
Kevin, who was 36, reported to medical personnel complaining of feeling unwell and then collapsed. He received immediate treatment from medical experts from the moment of his collapse and during his transfer to Birmingham City hospital, but unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone at the scene and hospital staff, they were unable to save him.
Kevin lived locally and was a regular runner and enthusiastic sports fan who had trained for the event.
His family would like to thank the medical staff for their valiant efforts to save Kevin, and the public for their kind messages of sympathy and support.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Epic Fail!

What could be more simple than riding down a canal to then run back up it? Not a lot that I can think of! And so it was with utter confidence I locked my car in the car park of the Blue Bell Cider House in Hockley Heath (Checkpoint 2) to head off on my mountain bike along the canal to The Navigation Inn in Wooton Wawen.
I was running the middle leg of the JW Ultra Marathon on Saturday. A lovely 10 mile canal run. Mandy was runnning the first leg and I would hand over to Kate for the final leg. I left Checkpoint 2 at 10am with loads of time to travel the 10 miles to Checkpoint 1 to be there well in time to take on the baton from Mandy (estimated to be in about 11:20). I set off whizzing by the locks and shouting a 'good morning' to the other canal users. The weather was lovely, dry and warm, and I was looking forward to getting a decent run in race conditions under my belt. It would be my furthest run since Outlaw. This was all I had to do to get to the hand over.
15 mins in and I came to a junction which suprised me because for some reason (and despite living next to Fazeley Canal JUNCTION!) I didnt expect any junctions on a canal. My phone was in the car so I couldnt check sat nav. No problem I thought I will ask the nice man on his bike over the other side of the canal. I asked for directions to the canalside pub The Navigation Inn. This was my first mistake! Had I added Wooton Wawen or 'on the way to Stratford' I am sure he would have directed me right. Instead he said straight on. At this stage I was not aware of Mistake One so off I went.
I soon reached a 'T' junction with a right or left choice? I asked a couple which way the the canalside Navigation Inn (Mistake Two - same as One!). They said left and off I went. About a mile or so along the canal I was beginning to 'feel' that this wasnt right. I stopped another couple and asked if I was going the right way to get to the Navigation Inn but this time added 'ON THE WAY TO STRATFORD'. Of course they said no I wasnt and suggested I go back and go right at the 'T' junction. At the moment I was going away from Stratford. A fellow MTB rider (MTB Man) also confirmed this to be correct and I followed him down to the 'T' Junction. I left him by wishing him a good day and set off at some pace to make up for lost time. I should still be well in time.
As I rode along the canal I was sensing a deja vu moment. It all looked a bit familier. It looked and felt like the 22 mile canal leg I ran with Mr Happy 18 months ago during his epic JOG - LE run. That couldnt be right though as I wouldnt be going the right way!? I consoled myself with the knowledge that most canal paths look the same unless there is something out of the ordinary along the the big effin concrete tunnel/steps combo at Shrewsly. Shit on a stick I was on the route I had run 18 months before and the shit part of that stick was that it was not the route I should have been on for the JW Ultra!
I got up to the main road. Confident I shouldnt follow the canal any further I reckoned hitting the road with some local knowledge could still possibly save the day??? I asked a gentleman if he knew the way to the Navigation Inn. He said yes it was left to the crossroads, left again and straight on for 'a few miles' and it was then on the right. I also asked him the way to Wooten Wawen. That was right for quite some distance he confirmed. Decision had to be made. I asked if the pub was canalside, he said it was so I went for Left (Mistake Three).
He was right in that I got to the The Navigation Inn, he was right that it was canalside, he was right it was a few miles (he didnt warn me about the hills!), so when I got there I was gutted, absolutely gutted that there were no runners on the canal, no marshals, no effin anything!! I'd travelled 15 miles - remember this as its relevent - oh so fucking relevent - to the conclusion of this fiasco with the help of hindsight! I thought I have no choice than to head back to Shrewsly and go right to Wooten Wawen. I was completely lost.
I retackled the hills (knowing they were there to be dealt with didnt help), went through Shrewsly, headed right, spoke to another nice gentleman to stay on track and finally, finally saw a car by the side of the road at an opening to the canal. Better news still there was a runner on it and spectators who confirmed this was the JW Ultra route. I could go right against the runners down to Checkpoint One or left with the runners to Checkpoint Two. I chose right (Mistake Four) thinking they might be waiting for me, or ringing me, or ringing the emergency contact number meaning Mrs B will be worrying that I've been run over, or fallen in the canal or some other such ridiculous situation I can get myself into.
I got stung, scratched and very nearly ended up in the cut as I bounced along the somewhat overgrown canal path. I stopped to let each runner through concscious not to impede their running and finally made it to Checkpoint 1. Mark looked at me like I was a schoolboy renowned for forgetting his kit for PE about to tell the teacher I had forgotten my kit again! He said Mandy was running my leg as she was first woman through and upon realising I wasnt there she had remarked "well we're not gonna not finish!" (I think this may have been littered with expletives!). So I set off with the naive hope of catching her so she could have the bike and I could at least run some of it. I was truly unimpressed with myself. I had travelled 22 miles or so for a 10 mile journey, missed the run and most importantly made Mandy run 20 miles at 10 mile race pace! I knew she would not be pleased and rightly so.
I went as hard as i could but realistically I couldnt catch her. I passed @Meldy67 and a few other runners and wished them well. Gutted that I wasnt with them on foot! About 5 miles from the end I popped out on the canal junction where I made Mistake One. More gutted that it was all so easy had I done it right. I finally got back to Checkpoint 2 that I had left 3 hours and 14 mins earlier. I had ridden 33 miles or so. I apologised with absolute sincerity to Mandy who had blitzed the run whilst Mark and Matt ripped the piss. Something I may have to get used to!
That was my Epic Fail for the JW Ultra. I am lucky that Mandy is so forgiving and such a good runner. My disappointment was highlighted this morning when I uploaded my Garmin to realise that at about mile 15 at The Navigation Inn Lapworth (the wrong one) I was back on the canal where I had sought help from MTB Man and so only a few miles from getting back on route and perhaps getting to meet Mandy only half way into the second leg. If only I'd......................

Thursday, 13 September 2012


This is a ridiculous concept. As if an Ironman isnt hard enough I am going to do Outlaw 2013 Ironman in a Morphsuit! At least the ride and run sections. The swim is in the air at the moment as to whether I can do it in the suit because in water the Morphsuit material holds the water creating a CIA Waterboarding effect and I simply dont think that will be condusive to a good swim! I am looking to see if there is a way of working it out and will be testing at Dosthill Quarry in due course.
I have received confirmation from the British Triathlon Federation and One Step Beyond that I can compete in the suit so now the most ridiculous idea ever (doing the Ironman) has just got a little bit more ridiculous. The buzz I felt yesterday when registering again for Outlaw was great. Seeing lots of others registering and at a rapid pace, was fantastic and I think the event will be full within days rather than weeks!
I did of course do VLM12 in the Morphsuit (and it was really really hard) and I saw at least 10 other Morphs on the course but to the best of my knowledge no one has done an Ironman Triathlon in a Morphsuit. This year I finished with 15 mins to spare and I was of course just two minutes within the bike/run cut off time. At Outlaw 2013 the goal is a sub 15 hours Ironman finish to become the first Ironmorph. (feel free to correct me if I am wrong and someone has done this before - if for no other reason I would want to pick their brains - if indeed either of us has one!)
Design suggestions for the suit are welcome. Its a blank canvas at the moment. My initial thoughts are a white suit (easiest to print on) with Birmingham Children's Hospital on the chest and the Outlaw symbol on the face. I wrote a few things on my legs last year so may have something equally inspiring printed there too. The back is open to suggestions?
Fingers are now crossed for an injury/lurgy free training schedule as I wish for everyone else doing it as quite a few had their 2012 Outlaw efforts ruined with injury!
In other news I am on a runstreak! 9 days completed and todays lunchtime 4 miler will be my 10th. I was looking for something to provide a bit of focus in between events and I am enjoying it. As my distances improve I am hoping that this will give me a base for attempting an Ultra run at some point in the future - probably 2014 - purely because it seems impossible. The problem of course is that after Outlaw12 I did say publicly to you all that I dont ever want to hear you say you can't! I've kinda gotta be ruled by that myself!
I am also doing the 5km x 50 days challenge for Sport Relief. You can run, bike or swim or walk the 5k each day. It fits in nicely with my runstreak. Today will be my 5th day of that.
Both will help me toward 2012 miles in 2012. This should have been done and dusted before Outlaw this year but of course the disrupted training meant that my mileage was far less than it should have been. I am at 1302 with approx 15 weeks to go. I need to be hitting 48 miles a week which is certainly doable with a few decent rides thrown in.
As an aside my blog stats tell me that most of you that look upon it do so through the links I post on FB or Twitter. A few have stumbled on it by google search. Here is a list of the top 5 searches that brought people here this last week:-
'Abbots Bromley Lake' - thats quite nice
'Fat people Morphsuits' - somewhat less nice
'Altered smell imiquimod' - facial skin cancer reference
'Bald Outlaw' - made me chuckle
'Runner Famous' - I wish!
Quick shout out to @JWultra @ajh1269 & @madlot1 all doing the JW Ultra race this month. To @walkingunited who finishes his 2500 mile 92 Football Club walk for BNIB and Leukemia Research at Anfield this coming Monday, @mjgreenfield for his Henley Ironman this weekend and everyone doing IM Wales this weekend too!
I am off to to runstreak and 5x50 to my hearts content in the hope that come January I will hit the Outlaw 2013 training trail very much running!! Hope you all got in that wanted to and enjoy the journey. If you see a Morph out running, cycling or swimming do not be scared just give me a wave!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Engineered to fail?

Where am I? Kind of cast adrift at the moment, lacking in mojo and direction. Thought a blog might clear the haze and set me back on track.
Following the auction of the Olympic Track Team shirt Poppyfields have now raised a little over £177,000 for Birmingham Childrens Hospital and their research and treament of child brain tumours. This is brilliant and you, all of you, deserve great credit for that! Even better new is that Poppy is officially in remission following the removal of her brain tumour on St Georges Day this year. This after an 8 year battle, chemo, radiotherapy and 4 operations is the news that dreams are made of.
So whats with my lack of mojo? Part of it is post Outlaw blues I think and it happens after every 'challenge' once the buzz from the day subsides. It also has to do with not having plans for the next challenge in place yet.
Two pick me ups were to be the shirt auction and Outlaw being on TV. Both, ultimately, left me feeling disappointed but neither should have. The shirt was a great gift. It came to Poppyfields for free via Mr Jim Vanish, Daz Halfpenny and the LEJOG relay team. It was a fantastic unique piece of British Cycling memorabilia and with the auction running through the Olympics and with the massive success of the track team gold medals and world records were being added to it daily! I thought it would raise maybe £2000 - £3000. After all I have seen a signed Gazza boot go for £600 and shit popstar memorabilia go for more so a couple of grand for the shirt seemed realistic. Running it alongside the Olympics seemed to make sense too. Maximize the moment. Jump on the back of the publicity. We even managed to get some of the stars that signed it to retweet the details on Twitter. It was in the Midlands press and I was confident that a generous cycling/olympic nut or a business would see it as a good buy for a good price. The problem with an auction of course is that any item is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it. I was disappointed when the bid war on the final day never materialised and it sold for £720! I know I shouldnt be because its a great amount for the charity and I am sincerely grateful to the Scottish Gentleman that bought it to add to his collection of cycling memorabilia....but I cant help the nagging feeling that I should have gone about it differently and better to maximize the value.
The auction concluded on the final day of the Olympics which coincided with the hour long Outlaw Ironman programme from this year. I was very excited about this because the camera crew had interviewed me and Mrs B at the finish line and I had mentioned Birmingham Childrens Hospital and Poppy. I really thought the clip and the story would make the final edit. Sadly it didnt! Dont get me wrong it was great that Outlaw was televised but again I was left disappointed. Not only because I had again failed to get Poppyfields some TV publicity (as I had failed to do at VLM too) but because it concentrated on the elite athletes a bit too much and didnt give much coverage to the stories within it and the 'community' it creates. But then why would it?It is a show about an Ironman race and not about the non athlete in his first tri stumbling to the finish in the dark for a charity. But then some of the stories were given some air, the last 3 finishers ahead of me were shown finishing as was Nyut who was last just 2 mins behind me - it just skipped me. Now of course it sounds all me me me. Thats not the case. I have the video clip of me crossing the finish line and the amazing crowd shouting me down the finish chute so I have my moment. I would however have loved just a clip at the finish with my Poppyfields shirt on and Poppy's face. Of course so would every other competitor doing Outlaw for charity.
Quite a few people said I should have come last. Engineered a fail. Presumably for the kudos, attention and guaranteed TV clip and I would be lying if I said that didnt cross my mind towards the end of the run. However completing Outlaw was a personal goal as well as a charitable one. Despite my time I did Outlaw to the best of my ability. I went as fast as I thought I could go to give me a realistic chance to complete it. I was out the water in good time but my recovery from the swim took an age and I went to pieces on the bike. When I came in dead last from the bike (by some way) my only goal was to finish. I had 6hrs 30 mins to run the marathon. That sounds easy but I had to go with my plan and my pace. If I had pushed it harder on the run I would have failed. I was fine with that I just wanted to complete it and I knew I could.
On the last lap I got within sight of Nyut along the out stretch along the river. Nyut was walking and I did think about hanging back, staying behind him and finishing last but if I had I wouldnt have given it my all. Athletes at the Olympics talk about leaving everything on the track and I am glad I overtook him - kept to my plan - and ultimately finished 2 mins before him. I left everything (including the lining of my insides) on the Outlaw course. Should I have engineered last place for the charity publicity? Probably. Would I have been happy with that? Probably not. Its all a bit weird and confusing.
So, my Outlaw bubble was popped a bit because of my unrealistic expectations for the TV show but then if I can manage my own expectations and optimism (shirt value) world order should shortly be resumed. I stand by my Outlaw blog by the way. Outlaw blew me away and was utterly fantastic and remains my number one recommendation to anyone!
It appears then that I need to kick myself in the arse and get sorted! Sitting around is not good for me. In the last 3 weeks I have pulled 2 different muscles in my back. One when turning to watch the TV (I know ridiculous isnt it) and one by lying funny in bed! Mrs B has a fantastic challenge to look forward to next year and thinking about being her support team is already very exciting. Challenges for me are being suggested and some are catching my eye. The problem is that I am not an athlete nor am I fit so I am not doing runs and triathlons week in week out. I dont really have a desire to do a sprint or Olympic tri. I love the community and could well be marshalling at a triathlon next month but I am not a triathlete as much as I am not a runner or a cyclist. I am looking for the next 'thing' that will blow people away enough to part with their money again!! Stepping up from an Ironman is both difficult and frightening so we will see.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Signed Team GB Cycle Shirt Auction

We are auctioning a GB cycling shirt that was donated to Poppyfields ( who raise funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and their research and treatment of child brain tumours. The shirt is signed by:-

Sir Chris Hoy – 4 x Olympic Gold Medallist & 11 x World Titles – LONDON 2012
Victoria Pendleton – 1 x Olympic Gold Medallist and 8 x World Titles – LONDON 2012
Jason Kenny - 2 x Olympic Gold Medallist - LONDON 2012

Jessica Varnish – World Cup, European and National titles - LONDON 2012
Wendy Houvenaghel – Olympic Silver Medallist & 3 x World Champion – LONDON2012
Joanna Rowsell – Golds at European Track & World Championships and Team Pursuit WR holder – LONDON2012
John Paul – GB Olympic Development rider
Matthew Crampton – Commonweath Silver and World Championships Bronze medallist
Ross Edgar – Commonweath Gold & World and Olympic Silver medallist
Phillip Hindes – London 2012 Team Sprint competitor – LONDON2012

It is a collection of established GB superstars of World Cycling and promising upcoming stars of the future. It is a unique item. It was donated by the father of Jess Varnish who obtained the signatures.

Bid on Ebay item 190710238583

Poppyfields was set up by my Brother & Sister in Law after my niece Poppy was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 14 mths. 8 years later on April 23rd this year and after her 4th brain operation she was confirmed to be in remission. Poppyfields has raised over £170,000 for Birmingham Childrens Hospital and their research and treatment of child brain tumours.
I am simply trying to raise as much money for BCH as possible with the help of kind friends and family. I am relying on people to bid honestly and without mischievous intent.
Thankyou and good luck.

Sid 'Poppyfields' (Ironman) Sidowski aka Steve Darlaston

Friday, 13 July 2012

Whats Next?

So far its gone along the lines of this:-

26th June 2010 - me during a family picnic peaking at 13st for my 5ft 4" frame!
This coincided with a 20 yr school reunion and a 5 hour 11 mile walk home from the pub with a drunken resolution to sort myself out. Reinforced by a chronic hangover ruining a Bbq with friends as I slept through most of the England v Germany game the following day.
Other than the odd football match several years before I'd been concentrating on bulking up through idleitis for 20 years! It was fair to say I couldn't run to the end of my drive without being out of breathe!

So, inspired by Mrs Brightside a year earlier I entered the Birmingham Half Marathon to get fit and raise some money for Birmingham Childrens Hospital. I trained and did the Lichfield 10k in September 2010.
Thats me in the black morphsuit! Continuing this theme and trying to maximise fundraising I did Birmingham half in Oct 2010.

I am the good looking Morph! Thats Poppy with us too at the end!
I then trained some more and signed up for Edinburgh Marathon May 2011.

Then I popped my marathon cherry in Edinburgh.

Not wanting to slack and knowing I would I signed up for Liverpool Marathon Oct 2011 and trained some more (but not as well as I had previously).

Then I did Liverpool (badly).

I then signed up for my first triathlon. The Outlaw Ironman July 2012! Just had to deal with morphing VLM first.

Trained around lurgy, bike phobia, bouts of slackness to eventually pull of this:-

The lurgy update looks like this:-

So, I am a lurgy free Outlaw Ironman looking for the next challenge. Team Poppyfields have raised over £170,000 for BCH and Poppy is officially in remission.

Inspired by Mrs Brightside I can't see that there is anything I cannot do.

Options seem, ridiculously, to be veering towards ultra running. Thames 100, South Downs 100, The Wall but I did love to bits Outlaw and definitely (now Mrs B has recovered from the stress of it) want to do that again in 2013. There is Coast to Coast Race, Rowing the Irish Sea, Rowing the River Severn, Brathay 10in10 looks awesome and most fantastically they all seem impossible! Usual conditions will apply. Family first, training second! Thank you all for your help and if you can stick with me for the forseeable lets see where the next lap on the Rollercoaster takes us! You know the score now - don't let me hear you say you can't!!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Outlaw Ironman 2012

Wow - where do I start with this? I was truly blown away by yesterday. Humbled to the core, immensely proud and yet at 4:29 pm yesterday I was just seconds from failure!
If I go back to Saturday this was me in the Castle Grounds at Tamworth overlooking 1000's of people welcoming the Olymic Torch.

As I milked the moment the band were playing Jerusalem and in my mind the crowd were there cheering me off to Outlaw. It was very nice to meet the Mayoress and be presented with a commemorative plate after being nominated as an 'Unsung Sporting Hero' however in the back of my mind was the fact that I'd not really accomplished anything yet with the true test being Outlaw the following day.
It was good to be distracted and afterwards I drove up to HPP to rack my bike and have a look around. I took the opportunity to check the other bikes there. There was some serious value racked up. My Merida, with its foul language message taped to it, looked like a kids bike in comparison. Some serious athletes were going to do some serious speeds! They were checking this and spinning that and messing with tools and stuff. I pressed the front and rear tyres and thought 'yeah that should do!'. It was ready!

I met Amanda and Mark (they have real names too) who were both doing the swim event on the Saturday. Mark gave me a few final words of advice - something along the lines of 'you'll be fucking awesome' in between him saying hello to every triathlete there - amazing sense of community! I hooked up with Greg and Rox, great to see them again after Liverpool Marathon last year. Outlaw was to be Gregs first Ironman event too. He paraphrased the briefing for me (thankyou) because I had missed the one I needed to get to and couldnt wait for the last one as I had to be back for Poppy's party. Just before I left I grabbed a bike pump from JV who was registering for the marathon leg of a relay team. JV has helped throughout this process but I dont think he was as optimistic as Mark for me. Probably because JV knew how much preparation I hadn't done!
I raced home, saw Poppy and the family, soaked up the 'good lucks' (some of which had a hint of doubt to them) sorted my kit bags and nutrition and was in bed asleep by 8pm.
Ken, Poppys dad, picked me up at 4am. I was tagged, bagged and fueled with porridge, banana and wholemeal toast and marmalade. The drive went really quick I just had enough time to scribble a few messages on my legs.
On the left is my lucky number 13, a mark of the 25th anniversary of my mom losing her battle with cancer, a bit of Latin that was also on my bike bars and some run coping strategies. On the right is the doer of deeds speech.
We got to HPP at 5am and was greeted by this sight - now those of you that know me well will know a sunrise or sunset of quality reminds me of my mom. I don't believe in omens but this was a spectacular heart warming sign.

So now it was game time. I said thanks to Ken as I entered the competitor area. Took a moment to absorb my surroundings and went and got my wetsuit on. The organisation of this event is phenominally good in that everything is taken care of which meant I could take my time and stay relaxed. Weirdly no nerves no butterflies I was chilled and ready. I was focused purely on swimming out to the first marker. That was my only goal at that stage. All the other competitors were friendly, joking around (loads of them knew each other), everyone helping squeeze each other into their wetsuits. I chatted and was beginning to enjoy rather than fear the look of shock on peoples faces when I told them this was my first triathlon.
We all got into the water which was a perfect temperature - still no nerves - and after 5 minutes of bobbing about we were off! Nearly 1000 people in a race against each other and the clock to swim 2.4 miles makes for a fantastic spectacle. There is bumping and kicking and pushing but its all people just trying to get swimming. I was near the middle of the lake keeping a support rower in my sights to keep going the right way. I couldn't draft as everyone was too quick but that didnt matter. I changed my swimming style from a breathe every two strokes to a breathe every one stroke and it felt great. By half way up the lake I was flying along, feeling really confident and reminding myself that this was all the work my arms had to do today.
I circled the first marker and turned for home at the second. Target one done now it was the home stretch. To my right were two women being drafted by a man. The womens stroke was the same rhythm as mine so i focused on keeping them in my eyeline alongside me and powered, yes powered, down to the finish line. To give a bit of perspective I had never swum with others, I had never swum more than 2 miles in a pool and never swum more than 2000m in my 3 open water training swims. I was out of the water in 1hr 35mins! This was much better than I had hoped and I had loved, beaming smile type loved, every minute of the swim.
Unfortunately I wasn't quite ready for the effect doing that has on the body. I got out of the water and I was all over the place. Completely pissed without being pissed. I walk better after 10 pints of Strongbow. I must have looked like Bambi to the Outlaw staff that kindly sat me down and whipped my wetsuit off! I managed to get into transition and got my cycle bag and sat down! I took 22 mins in transition (apparantly the longest of the day) purely to get my bearings. I necked a 750ml SIS rehydrate type formula, ate 3 pieces of bread and marmalade, put my suncream on (forgot my face hence the red nose I am sporting today), got my cycling kit on and when I knew I was ready I went off to get my bike.
I was on the bike just before 2 hours which was great. All I had to do was maintain 14mph ave for 112 miles and I would get a crack at the marathon which you have to start by 10 hours 30 mins! I started on my food bags. 6 in my pockets. 1 per hour (or between food stations). Each bag containing 3 Criff blocks (big chewy energy loaded sweets), 5 Jelly Babies and a SIS Berry energy bar. The idea being that this would give me the carb load I need while riding and keep my energy up for the run. Some people refer to 'bonking' when their energy drops (although i take that to mean something completely different) and once its dropped you can't get it back. The food is complemented by SIS sport drinks loaded with Hi5 energy gels (sickly horrible things but neatly disguised in juice). Sadly their effect is less easy to disguise. In my case it was the shits!
Lonely ride out to 1st feed station (at 15.6mph ave I might add!) and had to stop for a shit! I had to apologise to the nice lady that held my bike for the terribly offensive writing on my handle bars but she didnt seem to mind. Out on the 1st loop which had the only 'real' climb on the ride then a great downhill section then stopping again at the same feed station (yes I had to go again!). This time as I rode off one of the staff who had read my bike the first time shouted "good luck and dont be a c@@t!". Made me chuckle.
Now this is around 44 miles. Ave down to about 14.6mph but the dodgy stomach troubling me. I had passed a couple of riders but I think they had then dropped out so getting to the 2nd loop that you loop twice I knew I was last. Luckily it meant that everyone on their 2nd lap gave me company on my 1st. Still with me?
I chatted to a cockney called Ron for a couple of miles and this kept me riding strong but the 2nd half of the loop was incredibly tough due to a ferocious head wind. It sapped my energy and having to stop at each loo for the necessary was really pissing me off! As I approached the last feed station on the loop Andy Holgate overtook me, shook my hand and told me to stay steady and he would see me on the run! How did he know he would see me on the run? Where do these triathletes get their confidence from? It is unbreakable. He then stopped to help a Pirate who was throwing up really badly and as I passed a cyclist sat on the floor needing medical assistance I was at 14.2 ave. I stopped again at the next feed station. A young girl probably about 10 offered to hold my bike but I had to politely refuse because I didnt want her reading the bars. As I sat in trap 1 of the portaloo I checked my watch.76mph into the ride, 14.2mph average. Another loop to do on my own this time before heading home and my belief (and I had, up until then truly believed that I could do this) just went. Fucked off in an instant. I sat there with a tear in my eye knowing I could not do this. I could not maintain 14.2 around that loop again on my own.
Its weird how things inspire you - there are a million things that can push you, help you, encourage you, give you a reason to do something but at the end of the day (the stars come out and it gets very very dark) it is only you that must believe and have the will to do it. Its all well and good thinking about the inspirations behind it but they dont pedal a bike. I was broken at that point. Without a doubt. I got back on the bike and soon passed the turn off for home with those around me turning right with 12 miles or so of the ride left. I, however, begin my second loop! Strength drained from my body. I couldnt control my emotions. I hated my bike, the weather, the roads, myself in particular for lack of preparation, lack of dedication. Why hadn't I taken this seriously? I've let so many people down and the doubters will be right!
I seriously thought about cycling back and withdrawing. The negative thoughts were overwhelming, this blog was written in my head - DNF, failure, 'gave up' all featured. The blog would include thoughts of feigning an injury or mechanical breakdown and would then just admit i wasn't good enough and hadn't prepared.
The loop was horrendous, i didnt see another cyclist, some of the marshals had gone, the food station people were still brilliant but I felt a fraud passing people shouting ' keep going ' or 'well done'. I underestimated the power and belief of the community I had got involved with. At that time I had lost my belief. The wind, the loop, my attitude meant that as I turned off the loop to head 12miles or so home I was fucked. I was on the small chain and easiest gears - I had no strength left in my legs and it was all I could do to pedal back. The motorcycle rider rode the last 10 miles with me. Making sure i was ok and guiding me back to HPP. He was brilliant. I on the other hand was down to 13.5mph ave and convinced my race was over. I was thinking I will be glad when they pull me and how on earth did I think I could do this in the first place. The task itself beggers belief. Mr Legg (PE Teacher circa 1985ish) was right when he said "Darlaston you will never achieve anything!" (paraphrased). Effectively i had resigned myself to 'well you gave it a go and thats the main thing' - anyone that tackles any personal challenge knows thats a crock of shit!
Then came two moments of clarity in what was a dark haze of personal misery. At the last turn of the main road before hitting the outskirts of HPP (probably a mile from HPP) one marshal shouted 'we're proud of you'. How can you not give at least a little bit more effort when you hear that? I then pulled into the grounds of HPP and heard my name being shouted very loudly from above. On the wall of the bike dismount area was Mrs Brightside, The Rugs and John Ogden. They were going mental giving it loads. I was overwhelmed. Mrs B shouted "are you ok?". I had heard her but I was in bits. I didnt want her to get an idea of mystate of mind so I just blew her a kiss. The staff took my bike and said 'you're in time' and I went into transition.

I sat in transition with tears streaming down my face. Trying to get my head straight after being resigned to quit and now about to run a marathon was difficult. The problem was short lived though as a marshal came in and said if I wasnt out and running in 30 seconds I would be pulled from the race! Trainers on, t shirt on, ditch the gels, no time to think and out I went.
A huge shout from Mrs B & Co again (I think they were a bit suprised I'd made it out as I may have looked a bit wobbly getting off the bike) and off I went. Utter devastation just moments before replaced by a weird confidence and determination to run a marathon in 6 hours and 30 mins! It was surreal. I couldnt quite understand how the legs that couldn't pedal another turn felt strong and willing to run. No pain, no aches and a complete mental rebirth. I was on my way to becoming an Outlaw!
My marathon plan was simple. Plod. Slow and steady plod from station to station. They were a mile or two apart on the course so my race was one station to the next. I stopped at the first for water, oranges and a jaffa cake and then continued down the lake only to be suprised by my brother and his family cheering me on (it seemed the whole world was rooting for me!). I ran past the finish point where Mrs B and Co gave another huge cheer, the rest of the crowd cheering home the first female so the atmosphere was superb. I passed the finish and straight away had to stop at the next toilets again! Nothing was staying in me. Next food station was just water and jaffa cake for me as fruit going through far too quickly. As i headed out onto the lap on the bank of the river Trent I needed a toilet break again at the next station so I had water and crisps from then on and finally the toilet breaks stopped. Now, if someone had told me you can run a marathon on water and crisps I would have laughed before yesterday. If that marathon was after the swim and ride i would have suggested they were mad! Are crisps and water the gel free way forward?
 My running felt fine and i was really enjoying it. Running with all the other competitors was great after such a solitary ride. What was also great was after lap one getting a big shout from Matt who had come up to support. I've never seen anyone as excited as he was. Straight away he said "you've done it Sid, you've done it!". This after only 8 miles of the run. His enthusiasm was infectious and he ran a lap of the lake with me pointing out how the last 16 miles or so were easy. The hard work was done. I had to agree with him as i felt good and strong and I knew I would finish!
I saw Karl & Nichola too. Karl ran with me a bit and Nichola got some pictures. Karl was clearly anxious that I should pick up the pace to make the time but I reassured him that my plan and pace will see me home in time (lucky 'cause I only had one pace - plod!).
Here are my lad and nephew running down the back straight with me. George shouting "Go on son! 'cause thats what you shout at the telly dad!"

During the run I did get to see Andy Holgate again who had predicted with total confidence earlier in the day he would see me on the run! I got a huge hug off Lee Kennedy who was springing along almost Gazelle like on his last lap (while I was on my first!). His manly man hug a great boost. I would have Hi 5'd Greg had it not been for his knackered shoulder. I was to see him again on the run as I did Lena. Lena looked so strong running and having put herself through loads and done her best to get me off my arse during training with some virtual training sessions it was great to see her on the course. Matt Kurton whizzed by and I recognised him from his name on the back of his shirt because of the pic on Twitter previously so I gave him a shout. David Mulry was great company during a walk/drink break in the run. He had missed the last 5 weeks of training due to injury but when I saw him he had nearly finished and I had a lap still to run! I got a big shout from Tim too and whilst any of us had barely met previously (if at all) it was like spotting a best mate in a pub on a night out.
I was last during the run and that was fine with me. I never had a single doubt during the run and felt strong throughout especially at the end of each lap when Mrs Brightside ran down the lake with me. She knew I would do this and her confidence in me is unwavering. I was going to finish but I do this for a reason. Not only is it an expensive form of self harm but it raises thousands of pounds for Birmingham Childrens Hospital. I missed my opportunity to publicise this at VLM and wasnt going to make the same mistake again. At the end of lap one proper I pointed out to the announcer that this was my first triathlon. "your first Ironman?" he asked. "No my first ever triathlon" I replied. He told the crowd they went mental and it was Hi 5's from the staff as I went on my next lap. He had the crowd going for me next time round and this time I pointed out it was for BCH. Crowd more mental (i think drink may have played a part by now!) and I was buzzing.
I set off on my last lap. As I passed the changing tent a huge shout of 'Go on Sid' followed me. I raised a hand of acknowledgement and thanks and plodded on. I congratulated every runner going the other way to finish as I headed out. I thanked every marshal and food station staff. The sunset over the river was spectacular and the bike marshal introduced himself and said that as the last competitor he would guide me in. This was quite an emotional mile or two particulalry the staff at the feed stations giving it loads and staying out till the death. As I turned at the top of the river and headed in I passed Nyut. A vietnamese fella walking to save his legs for the lap of the lake. My plod was only just quicker than his walk and as the bike marshal moved between us making sure we were ok I could hear him a few metres behind me. I ran past the feed station overlooking the lake and had a cup of water. I collected my last wristband and thanked the staff for the day and plodded up the lake with various different marshals running and talking to me. At the last feed station my last cup of water and a walk to the 25 mile marker.
Two marshals then brought me in. One of them asked about my shirt and my fundraising. As I told him he took out his mobile phone and text a donation. These guys were magnificent! It was pitch black by now. A Pirate girl ahead of me caused a huge cheer as she finished and the lights at the finish began to get nearer. I'd be lying if I said I wasnt feeling very pleased with myself, I knew the reception was going to be brilliant but I didnt expect what I saw. When I saw the sign 'Turn Left to Finish' I welled up with joy. As I hit the finishing straight I couldn't see the finish, just a crowd of hundreds of people forming a human tunnel all shouting 'Sid'. I applauded them and the staff and did my best to sprint through to the finish whilst Hi Fiving them all. It was great to run through the finishing tape. I didnt need to remember to smile as I was beaming already and I was then straight into the arms of a wholly relieved Mrs Brightside. She was in bits and whilst she hadnt travelled 140.6 miles she had, emotionally at least, taken every stroke, pedal and step with me!

We were then interviewed by the TV crew which was a suprise but it would be great if BCH get a mention on the TV even if Mrs B was a bit of a blarty mess! She told me how proud she was but did ask that I never put her through something like this again. She is a true Ironman Widow who provides the strength and support I need to do these things. I am a truly lucky man!
At that was that! Somehow and from somewhere within me I dug out an Ironman finish to become an Outlaw! Along the way I had gained the support of the crowd, strangers were texting updates to mates who couldnt be there, Mrs B's phone, FB and Twitter had been on fire all day with people after updates. John, Matt, Greg and Rox stayed to the death and came to congratulate me at the finish. I have gained some very good friends and been introduced to a wonderful community of people. People that have a deep seated confidence in themselves and others. If society reflected the community of triathletes that I witnessed on Sunday then the world would be a far better place. No need to bring back National Service - make Ironman compulsory for everyone!
I applaud the staff at Outlaw for a superb day. Organised by competitors for competitors. They couldnt do enough for me from encouragement, help, answering my daft questions to getting me to HPP off that ride and running me down to the finish straight.
I applaud the supporters who made it to HPP, many of whom were there from 6am to 11pm to give the shout, the cheer, the applause to keep me going and everyone that got caught up in this event back home constantly checking the updates, Twitter FB etc to find out how I was doing.
I applaud the competitors that got in that lake at 6am that morning, each one about to undertake a personal journey of highs and lows submitting themselves to a huge test from the ultra fit athletes racing a PB to the shortfatbald wannabees bringing up the rear!
I applaud my family and friends, particularly my Ironman Widow, for putting up with me through this journey, helping me train (when I did), giving me advice and giving me the strength to succeed.
On July 1st 2010 I went for my 1st real training run for 20 years. On July 1st 2012 I completed my first Triathlon to become an Outlaw Ironman. Don't ever let me hear you say you cant do've been warned!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Team Poppyfields

40 hours or so until the start gun/whistle/horn goes in the lake at Holme Pierrepont. Then I will be off on my 4th ever open water swim and my first swim over 3200 metres ever. I'll be swimming 3860 odd metres. Within 2hrs and 15 mins of the start gun/whistle/horn i will have changed into my bike stuff and embarked on my first ever ride over 88 miles and my second over 48! I will be riding 112 miles. Within 10hrs 30mins I will have changed into my running kit and embarked on my 4th ever marathon!
I wanted to blog something brilliant, something inspirational. For me personally (as this blog has always been a kick up my own backside) but also for anyone that reads it. I've already quoted others that put things much better than me and posted pics I wish I could lay claim to have created. I've watched clips of other people attempting amazing feats of endurance including the Hoyte Ironman clips (this only demoralised me if I am honest) and I've followed other peoples journeys as they run Britain or the USA, or cycle Europe or even the world, they have walked VLM in a mechanical suit, or walking near blind 2500 miles to all 92 football clubs or run for as far as they can in 24 hours or raced over 100miles or walked their first 5k for cancer research! The list is endless. These people have 'something' that propells them forward despite or is it inspite of everything.
I can draw inspiration from others, I have to. Over the last 6 months I've had immense support from family, friends, strangers, cyber mates ranging from a 'good luck' and £1 sponsorship to advice and training assistance. People have gone out of their way to help me despite being an internet stranger initially (now probably just thought of as strange). I've had brilliant bits of advice throughout from a sub culture of our society that goes against everything we see on the surface of today. They think nothing of travelling across the country for a training session or running a 30 mile ultra race on a friday so a mate who cant make the saturday doesnt miss out (of course they run it Saturday too!) or sharing a juice or a gel when racing or helping someone stranded fix a tyre or making sure someone who cant go on receives assistance before continuing themselves or just passing on nuggets (golden nuggets) of information and support. They band together like the immense unstoppable force that they are. I've a list of probably 500 people that I personally know as Team Poppyfields (to do with Sunday this is as Team Poppyfields has a far greater reach). Half of them dont even know they are Team Poppyfields but every person that has helped me is Team Poppyfields because without them I wouldnt be stood in a lake in Nottingham at 5.55am Sunday morning waiting for the start gun/whistle/horn to go!
I want to shake them all by the hand - come 11pm Sunday I'll probably accept huge hugs only - and if I could get round all of them and thank them I would. I did toy with the idea of naming them but I see the pitfalls with that - miss a few (unintentionally obviously) and I'd feel bad. So if you have read a blog of mine, or sponsored me or retweeted me or shared my FB page or wished me good luck or called me insane or lent me kit or given me advice or trained with me or followed Poppy's story or held me together or inspired me or just said something nice, whether you like it or not, you are part of Team Poppyfields which means you're doing Outlaw with me!
I will be proud to represent Team Poppyfields and welcome the Olympic Torch to Tamworth tomorrow morning, I will be proud to suffer an anxiety attack on behalf of Team Poppyfields as I register at Outlaw tomorrow afternoon, it will be my pleasure to be unable to sleep tomorrow night so Team Poppyfields can sleep soundly, and it will bring me great joy to throw up my guts sometime (maybe several times) for Team Poppyfields during Sunday!
I would love to write something brilliantly brilliant here - leave you with an original inspirational quote. All I can say however is thank you very much indeed - all of you. Good luck to all the other Outlaws - race safe and enjoy. For Team Poppyfields I will give it my all and we will conquer Outlaw Ironman!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mrs Brightside!

Its Tuesday...Outlaw Ironman is on Sunday. This week should be a week of focus, preparation and rest. Whats it like to be days away from your first ever triathlon and its the biggest of them all? Its difficult to say. There are two close comparisons in my lifetime. The first is being sat outside of Mr Lunts (head of 3rd year circa 1986) waiting to be grilled again about a spitting incident on the train on the way to school one morning. Its fear and its huge dollops of it. Fear, I think can be channelled into positive energy. It does help focus the mind on the task as the task is the origin of the fear!
The second is being sat in the changing rooms waiting to go out for the final and biggest rugby game I played in vs The Friary circa 1990. Head hidden under a towel trying to control my emotions to psyche up for the game. Always slightly removed from the team as was my warm up but it seemed to work. I took things with me onto the pitch (no not 'things' such as a knuckle duster or packed lunch), mental things. Having not played any competetive sport for so long I have become a little out of practice but this week is bringing it all back. Its bringing it back because tomorrow, 27th June, is the 25th anniversary of the death of my mom ironically (considering the cause I fundraise for) due to a brain tumour following a 4 year cancer battle. I would draw on this loss when playing rugby to stick my face under a boot without hesitation, to take a smack in the mouth from a towering opposition No 8 without concern or two stick my head into the knees of the County sprint champion to stop him flying down the wing to score a try (or as Mrs Brightside calls it a 'ball placement'!). Then though is was a reckless strength. On Sunday it needs to be a measured and controlled strength.
At the best of times I am emotionally weird. Mrs Brightside and the Rugrats tease me whenever we watch Cars and Doc turns up in Lightening McQueens pit lane in the final race because it always brings me to tears. If I watch a re run of almost any Jonny Wilkinson England Rugby moment a tear will sneak out. Yet I didnt cry at the birth of either of my children. Mrs Brightside will tell you I am not right but the situations require different emotional responses. The emotion is real, its there when your Rugs' come into this world but it is controlled. It is controlled because it had to be. To be strong, helpful or just there for Mrs Brightside doing all the work! That control is not required when Wilkinson dropped us the World Cup against Australia (in their backyard I might add!) or Lightening pushes The King across the finish line.
Its that control and measured emotional response and strength I need for Sunday. I found it in Edinburgh, lost it in Liverpool and sort of regained it at VLM. With the additional emotions of this week I will be creating a positive energy from fear and inspiration from sadness. By the same token then this is not a negative but a positive impact on Sunday. I will draw strength from tomorrow and harness it for Sunday.
My ultimate support, strength is drawn from Mrs Brightside. I have often referred to her as being my pride, confidence, heart and happiness. She is all the time although I dont always let her know it. On my handlebars will be Superbia Fiducia Animus Felicitas (which unless my reseach is wrong is latin for Pride Confidence Heart and Happiness - oh and if it is wrong dont bother telling me as I'm not changing it!). I dont need a reminder but hey there is no harm in being prepared and who knows just how dark the places I visit Sunday may be?
Mrs Brightside has been tinkering in the last week or so. She pretends not to be interested in the mins/mile stats from my runs or average mph on my rides or wetsuit thickness levels and impact absorbtion for my kit even to the extent of falling asleep while I talk about it but I know it sinks in somewhere. Her tinkering has resulted in me being voted to be an 'Unsung Sporting Hero' and be part of the welcoming party for the Olympic Torch visit to Tamworth this Saturday. Now I am not too sure about the hero bit or indeed the sporting bit but its very very humbling to be recognised like this. I will say that it is a Team Poppyfields honour really because without all those around me, supporting me, sponsoring me and particularly Mrs Brightside I couldn't do any of the events I do. I will happily stand tall for Team Poppyfields to welcome the Torch.
Like that wasnt enough she has been badgering the local press to run another article regarding the Ironman so I spent 30 mins chatting with a reporter yesterday and they will get the story in this weeks Tamworth Herald. I also caught her commenting on FB about 'bursting with pride' at the end of this week. I'll take that into my mental armoury thank you very much!
This pic is my current FB profile pic and I love it.

Drawing on all souces I will leave you with this famous quote which I may scrawl upon me for Sunday.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually... strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat"
So I am focused now for Sunday with the strength and belief of my Ironman Widow and will be using a day of rememberance tomorrow to fuel my Ironman fire!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Nothing left to do?

There are 9 full days or 9 and a  half days until Outlaw. My brain has finally accepted that I am as fit as I can be for July 1st. Any training now wont improve my fitness. Any long runs or rides wont be of benefit - at best they will tire me and at worst I risk injury. This realisation followed a couple of mental issues being put to bed yesterday. The first being a decent length swim in a time indicative of avoiding the dreaded swim cut off at Outlaw. I did 3000m in the pool. It went really well and took me 90 mins. I had looked up some swimming technique videos on youtube and put into place a few of the pointers. They worked well and I was pleased. Even enjoyed a few moments where I  was lost in the swim and flying along. Such moments are so great but so rare! I felt strong and the distance no longer concerns me. I intend to hone my OW technique with 3 or 4 OW swims over the next few days but I am not going to do anything daft. I am confident I will be out of the water and on my bike within 2 hours!
I swam in my tri shorts for the first time and then jogged the 1 mile home before jumping on the bike (for 'jumping' read minced about a bit making sure I had everything, had a drink, ate some bread and marmalade, eventually climbed on bike fumbled into peddles and finally set off!) The shorts are great. No chaffing on last weeks 88 miler and no chaffing today and they dry really really quickly!
I only did two hours on the bike but practised fuelling! I went with SIS gels that had got me round Edinburgh and Liverpool Marathons last year...I had forgotten how rank and sickly they are and as a result I am now looking at ways of fuelling without gels. SIS do very nice bars at double the energy impact of the gels. I am now looking at 2 of them per hour plus a Banana at the feed stations. A few jelly babies here and there and I reckon I'll be off the bike ready to run (for 'ready' read still breathing and able to stand!). A couple of little spins next few days to practise but nothing daft. I am confident I will be off the bike and ready to run by 10 hours in!
Finally I tagged on a 5.5 mile run. Previously a run off the bike usually resulted in a numb foot for the first few miles but yesterday was fine but incredibly slow (12 mins per mile). I think this was due to being tired - it was certainly slower than I expected. It felt like I got into my running around 3 miles or so and whilst only plodding I did feel like I could have plodded all day. A couple of little jogs over the next few days to keep me ticking but nothing daft. I am confident that managed properly I will cross the finish line within 17 hours! So I know I can swim the distance in the time required and I can keep my shorts on throughout, I am getting organised regarding nutrition and overall if I get that right and keep my head straight this can be done. It wont be pretty and it wont be fast but it will be done!
All negative thoughts have been banished. I did not spend most of yesterdays ride fretting about the swim, the ride, the run, transitions, nutrition, heart, mind and soul. I was not comparing my training (or lack of it) to the other soon to be Outlaws out there wishing 'if only' or unwisely comparing myself to all the people out there that push beyond their limits succesfully. No I did not! Its all about confidence and belief now. If I break it down small enough I genuinely believe!
My much better half, with whom I celebrated 14 years together yesterday, rarely comments on Ironman or her views on what I can achieve. Yesterday however she did. She believes I have not trained enough and that if it wasnt for kids like Poppy, the reason I got myself into this mess in the first place, along with the thought of letting people down, I would and should have withdrawn weeks ago. However, by the same token, because of Poppy and me not wanting to let people down I will have the drive and mental focus to do it. She doesnt think I will recover for a while because this is a challenge too far in a physical sense but one that I won't let beat me psychologically. So sadly the body is gonna have to keep up.
There is now effectively nothing much left to do but get lots of sleep and and make sure I have everything I need. My earlier realisation means that I am where I am, pushing myself now wont help, so its gonna be down to pushing boundaries on the day, breaking down a few walls and over achieving when I need to......paying for it in the days that follow will be small price to pay.
As the best mate character Ed in Shaun of the Dead said when asked for his Zombie impression 'I'll do it on the night!' 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Drill It In!

Back on a track. Thankfully my last negative post hasnt turned out to be my last pre Outlaw. I would have been very disappointed with myself had it turned out to be.
I didnt go 7 days without exercising as I squeezed in a mile swim in the pool. Some good work on speed and technique and my spirits were lifted.
Friday I managed a little 5 mile run up to Dosthill Quarry and back to check out the open water swimming facilities. Very impressive and so Saturday I got down there and had my first OW training session. It was only 800m (3000 less than Outlaw) but it was a great learning experience regarding the whole open water swimming mularky.....and I really enjoyed it. Not sure I have enjoyed a training session for a while.
Sunday and Monday passed with parties and life stuff without a chance to squeeze a session in. Tuesday saw me out on the MTB during lunch hour for a 12 mile spin and Wednesday a lovely 4 mile run with my much better half. I'd enjoyed the last 3 sessions and felt reasonably strong. The big test was of course Thursday.
I had become a little overwhelmed by the whole Outlaw experience I think and I had grown to dislike it I guess. It interferes with my family (as much as I try to make sure it doesnt) and I dont like that. Fortunately Mrs Brightside is a star whether she would admit to it or not and I have had loads of encouragement and help from you lot. Twitter friends FB friends, oh and of course actual real life in the flesh friends! @Madlot1, knowing my lack of preparation suggested I go out on the bike for a day. See what it is like being in the saddle for 8 hours regardless of speed time and distance so yesterday that is what I did. 8 hours out round Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Warwickshire. Here's Blythfield Resevoir near Abbots Bromley.

I stopped the watch each time I stopped to consult the map (thank God for Samsug Galaxy Maps bloody ace), have a snack or rest or to take a pic (I realise I won't be doing that on the day) hence the ride time is 6hrs 16 mins with actual moving time of 6hrs 6 mins (10 recognised by Garmin as when I am at a junction, lights etc etc). I managed 88 miles at 14.4 mph ave. Two huge plus points are the ave speed and the distance being closer than I thought I would get to the Outlaw 112. It was also as hilly as fuck and particularly around 60 - 70mph I died on my arse! This could be down to poor fueling. My SIS drinks and Lucozade are fine but it seems a Kit Kat, bag of Walkers, Yoghurt bar and a can of coke arent quite as refueling as having a gel every 45 mins! Nutrition/fuel I am working on to make sure I get off the bike ready to run!
Here's yesterdays jaunt and I tip my hat to you cycling bods. Credit to you 'cause it aint easy!
The route profile looks to be more taxing than Outlaw so if I can keep focused and keep steady and keep fueled I would be disappointed if I wasnt on the run by 10 hours in at Outlaw!
Last night my legs were shredded but after eating my bodyweight in chicken and bacon, a cold shower and a sleep I feel suprisingly good this morning. I have had a chat with coach Vann and a cyber chat with coach @JWUltra and as a result all seems to be falling into place. Even felt strong during a lunch hour 3 mile loosener of a run!
Dont get me wrong I am aware of my poor preparation and lack of training and that Outlaw is going to be a lot tougher than I could have made it but I will be ready. @ironholgs rightly pointed out there is nothing that can be done now other than maintaining fitness and starting fit. No risks required trying to regain sessions that are lost. As he put it (and I paraphrase) 'be ready and drill it in!'. I think I know what he means and i will be ready.
I got this quote sent to me by an old school chum today - 'Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.'
Thomas Jefferson

I dont normally like quotes but I did like this one (probably due to the sentiment and support intended). I heard Mark 'waste of space' Lawrenson commenting on the football the other night quoting 'there's no I in team'. My blood boiled but as I rode yesterday I convinced myself that there is no IF in 'Outlaw I am gonna fucking ave ya!'
Everyone is confident that I can do this - some have even suggested that I am Awesome ;-) On July 1st I believe I will be. Buckle up we're going in!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Last Negative!

Today, if I dont run, swim or cycle will be the seventh day without exercise since a 48 mile cycle commute last Thursday. There are no excuses. No real reasons. For this last week and this last week alone I am a twat! I've wasted a bank holiday 4 day stretch where there were no kids Gymnastics or Dancing to get them to so I could have 5/6 hours to myself to train no problem. I've wasted the kids being off school this week meaning a training session could start at 5 or 6 and run through to 9 without the interruption of getting the kids to school.
Probably the most annoying thing is that this comes off the back of a good couple of weeks and will set me back a good couple of weeks! Set back a couple of weeks with 3 weeks and 3 days to go is crippling. I have let myself down and if I could I would kick the crap out of myself! Honestly I cant see Outlaw as being possible. It seems now to be an impossible task. That means I will be taking it on lacking in belief - sometimes belief is everything. If I dont think I can do it I will either fail or make an already difficult task much more difficult.
I could say I am going to do this and that to restore my belief, to boost my confidence but this will only add to my fury when I dont do it. I could rake up a few excuses - a twinge here, a tweak there but the truth is I am an inherantly lazy twat! A lazy twat used to leaving things to the last minute and fluking stuff. In all walks of life. I did it through school, I've done it throughout my working life and I hate myself for it! I seriously doubt that an Ironman Triathlon can be fluked. I tried to fluke Liverpool Marathon and that caught me out. I fluked VLM because I did it in fancy dress to hide my lack of preparation.
I've 3 weeks and 3 days until Outlaw. 3 weeks of training left if I train up to Thu 28th! Tapering has never really suited me but that is probably more to do with my 'leave it until the last minute' attitude rather than tapering not actually suiting me. Although to be fair you need to have worked, pushed it hard in training to benefit from a taper. I've not done that.
This will be my last negative post - it may be my last post pre Outlaw. In fact it will take something bloody brilliant to happen for me to be able to face (albeit in a cyber sense) everyone with another post. For that same reason I may be laying low on Twitter and FB while I see what I can salvage in the next 3 weeks.
I did consider not blogging but hey if I can bring this on myself I may as well share it with you lot too!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Heart & Guts?

Its been a weird few weeks. In the last 4 weeks I have trained everyday bar six. This period has included my 40th Birthday, Mrs Brightside's Birthday and George's Birthday. Problem is though I have doubts about the quality of the training. I fit it in where I can and it can range from 750 metres in the pool to 2000, from 9 miles on my MTB to 48 on my roadie and from 3 miles running to 13! Most of it is solo, none of it is in competetive Tri conditions and none of the training seems to have all the stuff others refer to such as fartlek (seriously is that a word), hill sprints, and other stuff that goes over my head! Its glaringly obvious from the figures I am nowhere near where I need to be and for all my " I'm gonna do this next week and I'm gonna do that " the fact remains I havent. Excuses are plentiful but ultimately none of them wash with me.
The highs have included a half marathon PB and the lows a 5 mile lunchtime stinker. A 48 mile round trip to work and a 12 mile MTB lunchtime struggle. A steady 2000 in the pool and a energyless 500! If that Snow fella from the telly had me hooked up to his 'swingometer' it would have burnt out by now! The highs and lows can be week to week, day to day, mile to mile or even metre to metre and they're just the training highs and lows. Add to them the off training variances and its a constant superspeed rollercoaster.
Just last week was the Belvoir Half Ironman that I should have been doing as part of my prep had my training gone to plan. Seeing all the fellow soon to be Outlaw Ironfolk completing it and in some damn good times too made me realise how far behind I am. Hearing that @doddi76 may have picked up an Outlaw threatening injury during this event (despite nailing it in 5 hrs!) was gutting. It raises so many questions about prep, pushing, catching up but then highlights the importance of getting to the start fit! Two great bits of advice given to me are 1) Get to the start fit otherwise you cant do it at all (@Ironholgs) and 2) dont try and catch up on missed sessions (@ajh1269). They are both bang on and perhaps the only real positives to be drawn from disrupted/inadequate training are that there is less chance of pre race injury niggles, there's a good chance of getting to the start line fit and I dont know that I can't do it! By that I mean I wont have attempted a half IM to learn that I cant do a full. So if I try and create positives they are that I can get to the start fit and without niggles, I have no previous bad tri experiences to worry about, I've no 100 mile bike arse pain to think about and just under 17 hours of endurance to look forward too. I can fear the unknown but if the unknown is to not know I cant, then there is nothing to fear! You still with me?
@Ironholgs has just made IM Lanzarote his bitch. His blog of the event is testament to heart and guts and taking on, to some extent, the unknown. From that, from the confidence others have in me, from the support, encouragement and advice loads are throwing at me I need to draw the heart and guts I will need on July 1st.
To bring you up to speed (not quite an apt word) on training this is how the first part of my last ride went - first RTA!  ‎24 miles on the bike to work 1:41 on the clock but spent 10 mins discussing the merits of road safety with a Croatian Lorry driver after he hit me and knocked me off the road. Articulated lorry with second trailer attached misjudged when overtaking me and cut in. The second trailer hit my right shoulder at about 30mph. Luckily my 1982 BMX Bandit type skills kicked in and I bunny hopped onto the grass verge and stopped before hitting the ditch, fence and bushes. Lorry driver stopped and said 'sorry boss'! I said " you sir are a cunt! Me and my bike weigh about 80kg and you and your lorry weigh about 3 or 4 tonnes! If you cannot drive properly get the fuck off the road BUT if you insist on driving, when faced next time with a choice of losing your wing mirror or killing a cyclist, choose to lose your wing mirror!" He then told me in good English that he didnt speak English. As I told him to fuck off on his way I think he understood as he scurried back to his cab Manuel style as if ducking a potential clip around the ear! Close call only 5 miles in. Note to self must grow eyes in back of head and become a mind reader in advance of peoples thoughts!
My last swim was 2000 metres (80 lengths) in the pool. First 40 slow and laboured but then someone else faster than me joined the lane. I let him go ahead of me and in sections of 10 lengths my target was for him to not catch me. 3 sets of 10 later and he hadn't! This had focused my swimming and gave me confidence to swim faster. I felt I had more in the tank and I need to have as the time for 2000 was 1:05. Thats just too close to call for the Outlaw cut off!
My last run was a stinker (the catalyst for my last and very negative post). I'm only going to do 1 or 2 runs a week from now on as I know the continued strengthening from swimming and cycling will see my marathon legs ok on the day (and if I have to I will crawl the mara!).
I will be feeding off the support so keep it coming. I hope @doddi76 gets to the start of Outlaw fit and raring to go as I hope all the other soon to be Outlaws do.
So, where am I now? Positive or negative? On a high or a low? All of the above all of the time. For me Outlaw won't be a race against the clock it will be a test of heart and guts! Do I have enough? Of course I do. It would be rude not to!